The United States Postal Service (USPS) has moved to patent a novel vote-by-mail elections system secured with blockchain technology.
An application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and filed by USPS on Feb. 7 envisions combining the “dependability and security” of the USPS with blockchain “to prevent tampering” of electronic ballots.
Saying in the filing that voters want a “convenient” means to access the polls, USPS offers a number of different methods to accomplish this objective.
Among the various “embodiments” include: mailing out token-linked QR codes; distributing scannable paper passcodes to a digital voting system; storing voter identification on the blockchain; storing electronic voting signatures on the blockchain; and storing the votes themselves on the blockchain.
Also unclear was the Postal Service’s intentions for the patent. A USPS press officer did not immediately respond to questions on whether or when USPS would actually test its methods.
Any change to the United States’ patchwork voting systems would almost certainly proceed down to the state and county level.
Forbes first reported the news, which comes at the height of a rhetorical standoff between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and the very concept of secure mail-in voting. Trump claims secure mail-in voting to be all but impossible.